Illegal Mining

Jwaneng open mine
World Bank
(Copyright information pending)

Illegal Mining

Natural resources are sometimes exploited beyond a sustainable level, spoiling natural habitats, affecting people's livelihoods and even fuelling armed conflicts.

The lack of precise geographic information is a critical limitation on the design of appropriate provisions for prevention and response to ongoing crises related to natural resources exploitation. Vast territories have to be observed within a narrow time frame as exploitation activities can easily shift from one area to another. The areas are difficult to access because they are widely dispersed, too remote or too insecure. The Illegal Mining pilot service can provide users with relevant information to contribute to focused reactions during conflicts and to support rapid identification of affected areas.

Core products


Geographic Reference Map providing basic geo-information of the study area




Potential Mining Map indicating areas where informal mining activities may potentially take place




Information Dossier describing briefly how to interpret the map and summarizing the analysis steps and major results



Geographic Reference Map

For regions such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), vector data are hardly available and often not reliable. Due to the lack of geo-data most of the vector data has been derived from visual interpretation and manual digitization of the satellite imagery in order to support the satellite based image analyses. The feature extraction process benefits from the multitemporal data acquisition plan. Thus, the impact of seasonal or even daily variations due to factors such as rainfall or biological growth can be overcome and the range of detectable features extended.

The Geographic Reference Map (GRM) provides basic geo-information such as road network, river network, settlements. The reference maps are provided at a scale of 1:100.000 for high resolution imagery and at a scale of 1:18.000 for Very High Resolution (VHR) imagery, respectively

Potential Mining Map

Potential Mining Maps (PMM) provide an indication of those areas where informal mining activities may potentially take place. The method used for extracting potential mining sites combines object-based image and geographic information system (GIS) analyses.

The workflow concentrates on two levels, built on: (1) a transferable feature extraction scheme in an object-based image analysis environment for the extraction of bare soil areas using very high spatial resolution satellite images, and on (2) GIS analyses using relevant ancillary information (e.g. vector data such as roads, rivers and settlements) to further cut down the number of potential mining sites.


Service coordination


This pilot service is coordinated by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) with the efforts of other partners inside the G-MOSAIC project: e-Geos, GISAT, Astrium GEO-Information Services, JRC and TNO.


Click the link below to download the brochure for the service Illegal Mining:

Illegal Mining